|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Disaster strikes on farms - Ethnic cleansing - mass displacements
Citizenship law sparks outrage
UN, EU mission fails to arrive
Time to be honest
IT was always inevitable that Zimbabwe’s beef producers would lose their lucrative European market. And while that doesn’t detract from the ruinous affect on farmers’ incomes, it does focus attention on what is happening in Zimbabwe today. The Foot and Mouth outbreak had to happen, but what is now important is that the causes are not buried under a pile of placatory rhetoric.
It had to happen because Zimbabwe is a lawless country. Anarchy allows the free movement of cattle and wildlife between zones that were once effectively controlled. Self-styled war veterans have cut fences that should never have been cut and the once enviably managed veterinary department has done far too little to bring the situation under control.
Under the Lomé Convention, patronising and contrary to the principles of free trade though it may be, Zimbabwe has been allowed to export beef to Europe. And when EU inspectors last visited Zimbabwe, they were unhappy with what they found. They wanted controls on animals reintroduced and they wanted several hundred vacancies in the veterinary department filled.
That didn’t happen. The veterinary department will blame the politicians who are driving the lawlessness, but they’ll do so in the form of whispered asides, behind closed doors. They are not the ones, they’ll say, our minister did it – he didn’t allow us to restore law and order and the treasury withheld the funds. That may all be true, indeed it is true, but then these things should have been stated openly months ago. The "it’s more than my job’s worth" attitude that prevails among men of so-called principle is slowly destroying Zimbabwe.
The veterinary department should have told farmers that the EU’s demands were not being met and why. If that point of principle caused men of principle to be fired, plans could have been made to save both those men and the industry. Instead, Zimbabwe sat on its laurels and said that at least the vet department was doing what it could to keep the Europeans at bay.
Well, that failed, didn’t it? And it had to. If anyone thought that prevarication and promises would satisfy the bureaucrats in Brussels, then their thinking was wishful to the point of foolishness. Complaining that farmers and civil servants are dealing with a recalcitrant government that keeps throwing teddy bears out of the cot was never going to assuage the worries of the EU. They wanted to know that the 800 vacancies were being filled, that cut fences were being mended and that the movement of animals was being controlled. If those things didn’t happen, they said, they’d remove the quota.
The veterinary department’s director, Dr Stuart Hargreaves, banned exports before the EU could do it themselves – but not because the EU’s demands were being disregarded by the government he works for. He banned exports after Foot and Mouth had been confirmed in Bulawayo. Which, to use a tired but appropriate cliché, is shutting the barn door after the cow has bolted. It is a case of too little too late, and it might as well have been done voluntarily when the EU’s rather fussy inspectors visited the country to look at the situation for themselves.
Little good will come of the ban. Europe is paranoid about food safety and Foot and Mouth is a particular obsession of theirs. It may be that even more stringent controls are placed on Zimbabwe in future – and to Zimbabwe’s everlasting shame, it may be that the EU places stricter conditions on other exporting nations as well. Once again, Zimbabweans will have self-righteous fingers pointed at them.
Farmers will look to their leaders for new markets, but none are likely to be as profitable or discerning as the European one. It is, for those who were allowed to export, a particularly vicious blow. And because it is such a blow, someone needs to be blamed.
In simple terms, that is easy. The blame lies squarely at the hands of so-called war veterans who destroyed a system that was once thought to be among the world’s best. Their senseless ruination of Zimbabwe allowed the Foot and Mouth outbreak to happen and they must be blamed for it. So must their sponsors, going all the way to the highest level. And so must be the veterinary department for its mendacious refusal to state the facts regarding the lack of progress. It often seems that in Zimbabwe today there are a great many well-meaning men and woman, good and honest people, who are fixated with hiding the reality of the country’s problems from the outside world. They will prove to be Zimbabwe’s greatest problem as the difficulties mount over the coming months.
One has to look long and hard to see the good in something so appalling as an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease, but if there is good, then it is to be found in the fact that the world will be reminded that nothing, absolutely nothing, has been done to end the errant behaviour of the government. Dr Made’s ministry can also take a huge portion of blame for the disease, and for the effect it will have on farmers already reeling under impossible stress. And that means that the truth about the outbreak must now be told. Nothing will come by saying that it was a chance outbreak, that, after all, the disease is endemic to the country. That is not the point, because the point is simple: Zimbabwe was allowed to export to Europe because its controls were among the most advanced in the world, including the western world, and because it managed the system impeccably. The point is also that Zimbabwe wants to continue exporting beef to Europe and nothing should be said or done to dampen that possibility in the future. The only way to achieve that is through complete and open honesty – and that requires that the blame be laid where it belongs, not on nature, not on chance, but at the government’s feet.
Editor- The Farme
CPA appeals to government over FMD outbreak
CHAIRMAN OF Zimbabwe’s Cattle Producers Association (CPA), Mr Tim Reynolds has appealed to government to immediately clamp down on illegal movement of cattle, which he said, was occurring unchecked throughout the country. The appeal follows the discovery this week of an outbreak of the potentially devastating Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in the Matabeleland region.
In a statement this week, Mr Reynolds warned that without commitment from government to clamp down on illegal cattle movements, "it will be impossible to control the spread of the FMD. The sooner the FMD outbreak is isolated and the affected areas quarantined, the sooner the FMD free regions can resume relatively normal operations," he said.
He was, however, not overly optimistic about the resumption of beef exports to overseas and regional markets. "Unfortunately, the current FMD crisis in the UK and the recent problem in the RSA (South Africa) are likely to prevent an early resumption of exports to these markets."
Interviewed on Zimbabwe Television soon after the outbreak, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Dr Joseph Made, said government had suspended all beef exports to preempt inevitable bans from importing countries.
The current outbreak was detected in cattle that were being transported from a Cold Storage Company feedlot near Bulawayo to the company’s abattoir in Bulawayo. Follow-up investigations revealed that cattle in the nearby Agri-Auctions feedlot were also infected.
In his report to farmers and other stakeholders on the outbreak, Mr Reynolds outlined some of the measures already taken as.
With immediate effect, all exports of beef, pork and diary products have been suspended and the EU, South Africa and SADC authorities notified.
All movement of meat products out of the Bulawayo area have also been temporarily suspended and roadblocks set up at Shangani/Insiza, and Gwanda/Colleen Bawn to ensure compliance.
All movement of livestock throughout Zimbabwe is temporarily banned, other than for direct slaughter at approved abattoirs. Movement permits must be obtained from the Veterinary Services Department, and not from honorary issuers. The ban also includes the Harare Agricultural Show.
The Cold Storage Company has also ceased all slaughtering of cattle at its abattoirs until further notice.
Mr Reynolds said the Department of Veterinary Services, with the assistance of other stakeholders in the industry, were carrying out measures to contain the outbreak by tracing back linkages to the affected feedlots. "As of 21 August, infection had also been located on CSC ranches at West Nicholson (Chomfukwe and Umzingwane) at the Agri-Auctions property at Marula. All the affected properties had been quarantined.
In statement issued on Friday following an FMD taskforce meeting, Mr Reynolds said: "FMD lesions were found in 28 herd of cattle in the Triangle quarantine feedlot on Tuesday, 21 August. These cattle had been moved from the Maximhill feedlot near Bulawayo three weeks prior to this discovery. None of the other cattle in the feedlot were found to be infected which reinforces the theory that these cattle had already moved beyond the infectious phase before translocation to Triangle"
The veterinary department had identified the type of FMB as the SAT2 strain. Previous outbreaks were SAT1 and SAT3, and the veterinary experts believe the current outbreak can be traced to cattle coming into contact with a known carrier, buffalo, although the exact source of the outbreak had not been established at the time of going to press.
In the meantime, said Reynolds, the veterinary department and CPA jointly appealed to all cattle producers, particularly in Matabeleland and Masvingo provinces to inspect their cattle thoroughly and report anything suspicious to the relevant authorities.
"The CPA supports this appeal notwithstanding existing farming disruptions, and requests its members to assist DVS where possible," said Reynolds.
At its meeting on Friday, the FMD taskforce outlined the parameters of the quarantine areas as:
Infected properties – because of carrier status, no cattle movement off the property other than that for direct slaughter for four years. The DVS would prefer all cattle identified to be in the carrier status slaughtered.
All properties within a 10 km radius of an infected property will remain in quarantine for six months.
All properties in a 10-20 km radius will be quarantined for four months.
All properties in a 20 – 40 km radius will be quarantined for two months.
Mr Reynolds said although movement of cattle, except for direct slaughter, had been frozen, special cases where producers are forced to move cattle will be considered on individual merit by DVS officials.
FMD outbreak was inevitable, say experts
By Kuda Matare
THE outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Zimbabwe was expected because of illegal cattle movements within and out of restricted zones, including conservancies that carry buffalos, well known carriers of the disease, veterinary experts have said.
The Department of veterinary Services was this week still investigating the source of the FMD out break. However, Masvingo Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) regional chairman, Mr Mike Clark, said although news of the outbreak was "devastating" owing to the breakdown of law and order in most areas, it was only a matter of time.
"We are devastated, but it was expected. We just did not know when," he told The Farmer.
He said since the farm invasions started, on 17 February 2000, "We have been appealing to government through various ministries, governors, MPs, ministers and law enforcement agencies on the dangers posed by human and cattle movements across veterinary zones."
He pointed out that experienced local and international veterinary experts, had after identifying and isolating FMD danger areas, put the zones in place. But all the extensive lobbying and negotiations have remained fruitless, said Mr Clark.
He added: "We were blatantly told, ‘to hell with the EU exports,’ who needs them. We will shoot all the buffalo. Just do not get in the way of the land reform programme - land comes first."
The EU beef market has been one of Zimbabwe’s major sources of the desperately needed foreign currency. Zimbabwe has an export quota of 9100 tonnes of beef worth about $2 billion dollars. All exports of livestock products to the EU, South Africa and the region have since been halted.
In early July this, the Wildlife Producers Association, at its annual general meeting attended by the then deputy minister of Environment and Tourism, Mr Edward Chindori-Chininga,
farmers had warned that the problems in Save Conservancy and Gonarezhou were a major threat to the EU beef export market as fences had, in some areas, completely destroyed.
Mr Chindori -Chininga told the farmers that he was aware of the problems, but "you must understand the need to address the land issue."
He said although the veterinary department was doing its best, against various impediments including present politics and underfunding, some of their staff were still not taking appropriate action in the wake of the current outbreak, to prosecute and stop illegal movements of cattle.
"Cattle are today being illegally moved into, and from conservancies, and are presently having direct contact with wild buffalo. They are refusing to act because the illegal fast-tracking comes first," said Mr Clark.
During the war of liberation, he said, "I was extensively involved in the control of FMD outbreaks, where there was a similar breakdown of law and order. This went on for over five years before it was finally controlled when law and order returned, with the massive EU donor financial assistance".
"As things stand at the moment I cannot foresee an early conclusion to this FMD outbreak, until law and order returns, and the effect of this is going to be catastrophic to our already flailing industry."
CFU President, Matabeleland region, Mr Mark Crawford, said because of the break down of law and order and inadequate funding, the Department of Veterinary Services was unable to effectively do its job.
EU veterinary experts were in the country early this year to inspect veterinary control measures and expressed concern over the situation in the Save Conservancies. Among other things, the team recommended that the problem of illegal cattle movement and the cutting down of veterinary control fences be rectified. But it is understood that despite efforts by the veterinary department and the department of National Parks to rectify the problem so called war veterans and Zanu PF militants continue to interfere.
Farm workers’ plight continues to worsen
THE plight of farm workers, forcibly evicted out of their homes by rampaging so called war veterans and Zanu-PF militants in the Hwedza farming area, continued to worsen this week as scores more were being thrown out off their farms. It is estimated that at least 3000 farm workers have been rendered homeless and those who want to offer help are still being barred while the police insist the matter is not an issue for the law enforcers.
Efforts by the Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe (FCTZ) to help those illegally evicted farm workers this week were frustrated by war veterans said to have allegedly blocked passage of the FCTZ team into the Hwedza area to help. Last week the government is said to have turned down an offer by the International Committee of Red Cross to help the increasingly destitute farm workers.
Sources told The Farmer that the war veterans and officials from the district administrators’ office, who both constitute the district land committee, spearheading the controversial land reform programme in Hwedza District, were suspicious of the motive of the FCTZ saying they had no knowledge of the organisation. The sources said they demanded to know more about FCTZ before it could be allowed to help the displaced farm workers.
FCTZ is a nongovernmental organisation which looks after the welfare of farm workers. The FCTZ officials were this week in Hwedza trying to explain their position with regards the assistance they offer to farm workers. However, the details of their meetings with the district land committee were not available at the time of going to press.
Police spokesman, assistant commissioner, Wayne Bvudzijena, said the evictions were a matter for the courts and could only be processed through the courts and did not necessarily need police involvement. He said, "Have you checked whether those farms have been designated or not. In any case evictions are not a matter for the police. We don’t have an interest in that. They should approach the civil courts."
The Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) Mashonaland East regional executive, Mr Steve Pratt, said it was wrong for the police to say they cannot do anything.
"For police to claim they can not do anything when a crime of this nature is being committed is clearly wrong. They have a constitutional duty to do something. As soon as it is judged to be political they claim they can’t do anything but they have a constitutional obligation to do something about it," said Mr Pratt.
He said there were so many events happening on the farms but nothing was being done to protect the victims.
Mr Pratt said in some cases farmers had been told to leave their farms altogether with their labour while in other cases farmers had been ordered to pay off their workers and some had complied while others had not. In some instances, he said, the so-called war veterans assaulted some of the workers during the illegal evictions.
He said four farmers had evacuated from the area and had been offered accommodation with friends elsewhere.
He said farmers workers had, in some instances, been offered assistance in the form of blankets, food and other basic needs but it was difficult to do anything meaningful.
"Lets not forget that these people have been traumatised since during the parliamentary election so it doesn’t take much to tell them jump and they will do so," said Mr Pratt.
Asked to comment on what farm workers who are being illegally evicted should do the Mashonaland East provincial administrator Mr Standrick Magunda said, "I can’t comment on that because I don’t know what is on the ground and circumstances leading to that." However, he said, there must be peaceful co-existence between those who are being resettled and the farmers and their workers.
Mr Magunda said if a farm has been set aside for resettlement the farmers should be allowed to wind up their activities while demarcation of the farm is going on. "They (farmers) should be able to wind up their activities. There should be no interference.
From what is said to be happening in Hwedza, somebody is interfering. I am sending a general advise to the DAs for peaceful co-existence and resettlement," he said.
The terror and misery of farm workers
Farm workers with their belongings strewn by the roadside as they ponder their next move after being forcibly evicted from their homes by so called war veterans.
this young boy, surrounded by family belongings, had to skip school to escape the terror of so called war veterans at the farm where his parents are employed.
Police, army, CIO to evict invaders on some designated farms
THE police, army and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) will soon be moving into farms countrywide to remove war veterans and other land invaders on some of the designated farms, intelligence sources have revealed.
The Farmer was told this week that the ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement wanted some people who were on some of these farms to move to make way for the model A2 resettlement scheme.
The model A1 was the "villagised" resettlement scheme, which Land, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister, Dr Joseph Made’ said should be completed in a few days. Soldiers have been engaged to help in the demarcation of pieces of land in various farms to speed up the illegal process.
Soon after the completion of A1 model, it is expected that work would start on the resettlement scheme for the small-scale commercial farmers. However, the sources said, farms that have been targeted for this scheme have also been invaded and war veterans and other people who have resettled themselves are supposed to be moved.
The sources said that the operation to evict such people is scheduled to start as soon as the allowance funds and other logistical support services are in place. They said police vehicles are to be used in moving the people. It is understood that they have asked for $20 000 each as bush allowance for the operation over the proposed two week period.
The sources said members of the uniformed forces who wanted land would also be allocated under the model A2 scheme.
Efforts to get confirmation of this from the police or the ministry were unsuccessful at the time of to press.
Jailed farmers out at last
THE Chinhoyi farmers, initially refused bail by Chinhoyi magistrate, Mr Godfrey Gwaka, were finally released this week following a successful application to the High Court.
The 21 farmers who are facing charges of public violence were granted a $100 000 bail each by High Court judge, Justice Rita Makarau, bringing the total amount paid for bail to $2,1 million. The State is alleging that the farmers attacked illegal land occupiers at the home of Anthony Barkley at Liston Shields Farm near Chinhoyi.
Stringent bail conditions were imposed which included that all the farmers, except 72-year-old Mr Gert Pretorius, reside outside Mashonaland West Province for four weeks from the day bail was granted. The farmers could only visit Mashonaland West to attend court proceedings. Justice Makarau also ordered the farmers to provide the Registrar of High Court with their physical addresses.
They were also ordered to report to the nearest police station every Friday between 6am and 6pm. Justice Makarau instructed the farmers to surrender their travel documents and not to interfere with State witnesses.
Justice Makarau said the Chinhoyi magistrate did not make any mistake by denying farmers bail because the situation then was very volatile.
Although bail was granted on Monday morning, farmers were only released on Tuesday as the registrar of High court only issued the warrant of release after 4:30pm.
Zanu-PF supporters are said to have gathered at the Chinhoyi police station to demonstrate against the release of the farmers.
Upon their release, the farmers, including one Briton, were received by their families and friends in an emotion charged atmosphere, with some family members openly shedding tears.
Cattle ban disappointment
THE Harare Agricultural Show began today without one of its major attractions; the annual cattle show, because of the last-minute outbreak of the dreaded Foot and Mouth Disease. The outbreak, first detected at a Cold Storage Company’s feedlot in Bulawayo, has been attributed to lawlessness on the farms.
Mr Les Mallett, chairman of the cattle committee of the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society, confirmed that the society had been advised by the Department of Veterinary Services that there should be no livestock at the show this year in view of the outbreak.
"That is be position, but this is not the first time she show has had to go ahead without a cattle show," he said citing similar ban in 1989.
However, the ban this year, has come after a particularly difficult year in which commercial farmers have endured a relentless onslaught by so called war veterans and Zanu PF militants who went on rampage on commercial farms, slaughtering livestock at will, destroying paddock fences and causing disruptions to farming activities. Months of painstaking preparations and huge amounts of cash spent on special feeding programmes for show cattle have all come to nought with the ban on the cattle show.
In a statement in July, Mr Mallett said: "Despite the unlawful activities and the current economic situation, cattle exhibitors have once more rallied together and entries at this year’s show are about average."
At the time, at least 407 entries had been confirmed in the beef cattle category and 50 in the diary section with more entries anticipated. This was well over entries for the previous year when 263 animals were entered in the beef section and 68 under the diary category.
Elaborate arrangements for judging the various categories of entries had been made and two overseas judges, Mr Jeff Ziegler from the United States of America and Mr Jean-Marc Cazillac from France were slated to be in the line up.
Teenage girls abducted
FIVE teenage girls, daughters of farm workers, have gone missing from a farm in the Chakari area of Mashonaland west province.
According to a report made to the Commercial Farmer Union (CFU) in its situation and security update, the parents of the girls, allegedly abducted by so called war veterans illegally occupying the farm, were reluctant to report the incident to the police for fear of reprisals.
Other reports from the province indicate increasing incidents of corrupt officials demanding bribes from farmers who wish to have their properties de-listed. District administrators heading some of the lands committees were reportedly putting pressure on some farmers to sign over some of their land for resettlement.
In the Trilawney/Darwendale area, deliberate bush fires are being started on farms while disruptions to farming operations have continued unabated. In the Macheke/Virginia area, illegal occupiers told the owner of Camdale Estate that he was not to plant any crops next season and was to remove Rhodes Grass plantation which they claimed was interfering with their own cropping.
In Marondera, the owner of Malabar Farm was barricaded in his house overnight while his appeal for police assistance went unheeded.
In Norton, the Chegutu district administrator is reported to have encouraged farm occupiers to confiscate a farm owners’ tractor keys to prevent the farmer from using the equipment.
A white game rancher visiting Johannesburg to see a new grandchild - leaving a prosperous farm occupied by "war veterans" - and a black hawker - in the city to sell curios to eke out a living - probably have more in common today than ever before in history.
Both are sons of the Zimbabwe province of Matabeleland. Both are beside themselves about their country's future but neither has given up in the situation that leaves them near helpless.
The hawker, who does not give his name for fear of reprisals back home, will make sure he's home to help vote President Robert Mugabe out of power in next year's presidential elections.
|President Robert Mugabe|
"We would like to advise him to go out," he says, almost politely.
"We won't fight. War is a dangerous thing. It kills kids and causes hunger. We shall just use the vote."
He remembers two wars. The war for independence and the slaughtering of the Ndebele (also known as Matabele) by Mugabe's notorious Fifth Brigade during the post-independence dissident campaign.
"(The ruling) Zanu-PF and the Ndebele people will never understand each other," he says, noting that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change enjoys suport across tribal lines.
"But in Matabeleland we still remember the Fifth Brigade who were trained by the North Koreans."
The rancher, who also prefers to not be named, is convinced that the government is out to make a mess of the country and exploit the vote as a result. But he and his wife live from day to day between the mood swings of the "war vets" on their farm.
|People claiming to be 'war vets' are behind land invasions|
Drunken and drugged
He relays horror stories of drunken and drugged "war vets" becoming a law unto themselves on his farm, north of Bulawayo, since Easter last year.
He says they have scared away hunting clients using knobkerries, axes and pangas, chasing away workers, helping themselves to farm property and police are more interested in helping the "war vets" when threatened farmers call for help.
Recently the police falsely claimed he had "voluntarily handed over the farm", he says.
However he reacts almost with horror to the question: "Why even go back?"
"A colleague in a neighbouring district was attacked by 'war vets' and the cops did nothing. He was put in the local hospital where he was protected by other white farmers as well as workers and village people ... Doesn't that give you hope?," he asks.
Recalling his own recent experience in a Bulawayo clinic the day a picture of handcuffed Chinhoyi farmers were on the front page of a newspaper, he says his black compatriots, ranging from doctors to patients, were angry.
"A young doctor shouted - look what Zanu-PF are doing. Who does Zanu-PF think they are? The country belongs to all of us, not just them. That gives me hope too."
He adds: "It's a very small percentage of the population behind all this trouble. Do you believe 12-million people really believe in it?
His wife remarks: "When 'war vets' tried to occupy factories in Bulawayo it was the workers who chased them away. The people who work for us deserve our loyalty and support. This wickedness cannot survive forever".
"War vets" have wired up their gates to forbid them entry. Many of their 78 employees have been chased off the farm, some beaten, but a core few have stayed behind to look after a valuable ostrich investment.
"The governor of Matabeleland North, Obert Mpofu, said he had selected my ranch because it was income generating and handed it over to a local rural council as a gift," says the farmer.
He says Mpofu was voted out in the last election but that Mugabe had reinstated him as a Member of Parliament in one of the uncontested seats.
Meanwhile on the pavement at Bruma where curios are sold, the hawker criticises the way "war vets" have occupied farms.
"Those people have just been dumped. They will not be able to survive on their little plots. It's all a campaign."
Asked his opinion of his white compatriots, the hawker says: "We need them. Yes, it was very racist in the Rhodesian times but we are friends now".
He feels the economic pinch badly.
"Sometimes immigration only gives me seven days to stay in South Africa and I don't make any money. In good months I have made R1,000. I exchange every rand for 27 Zim dollars."
The official exchange rate is one rand to Zim $8.5.
"There's also a lot of harassment at the border posts. Botswana is the worst. I don't know why they don't treat us as Africans. Maybe they hate our president so they transport those feelings down to the people ... He must be relieved his post."
Meanwhile the farmers find it impossible to reason with the "war vets" and their government and live from day to day, trying to continue farming between their occupiers' mood swings.
"The 'war vets' stopped a neighbour from irrigating his wheat.... We try to talk to them about food security. They say they don't want food security," says the farmer.
"They are employees of Zanu-PF and there to create havoc."
Farm twice offered to govt
The farming couple also say they invested their life savings into their farm 13 years ago when it was a derelict cattle ranch.
"It was offered to the government twice (as was the procedure for land resettlement before the lawlessness set in) and twice they said the did not want it."
The farmer further questions the viability of subsistence farming in Zimbabwe, "which appears to be the government's land reform programme".
"Subsistence farming is too poor. That's why people go off in search of jobs. Not only in Zimbabwe but also in South Africa."
Between a rock and a hard place
The curio hawker says coming "down south" is hardly a choice occupation.
"We don't like to come down to South Africa but we are forced to.
"May God help us."
Johnnic's online newsdesk
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 01 2001
|Trump cards in Mugabe's hand|
|FROM BARONESS PARK OF MONMOUTH|
|Sir, Your recent reports on Zimbabwe have provided cogent
evidence of Mr Mugabe’s ruthless disregard both for the rule of law and for the
desperate condition of the people, black and white. The issue is not just the
troubles of a handful of so-called rich white farmers, though they too are
Zimbabwe citizens who love their country, want to stay in it and are deeply
concerned for the Africans who have long worked for and with them; it is the
slow murder of a country.
It is being argued that the British cricket team should not go to Zimbabwe and that Mugabe himself should be excluded from the next Commonwealth meeting in Brisbane (report, August 14; Sports letters, August 21). But we should lose no opportunity to send people to Zimbabwe to see what is happening. It would be difficult to exclude the press from reporting on the cricket tour and, not least, it would give much comfort to the people.
As for the Commonwealth meeting, it would give Mugabe the utmost satisfaction to be excluded. Exclusion would make it difficult for the African members not to show solidarity with him, especially after the OAU support which President Gaddafi orchestrated. His presence in Brisbane would allow not only private pressure, but also visible recognition of what is happening. That is the least the Commonwealth owes to the brave people of Zimbabwe. Many are already pouring into neighbouring countries as refugees. More will flee from the famine now impending, and the whole of southern Africa will be destabilised.
It will be a disgrace if the Commonwealth, the UN and the EU between them cannot persuade the African countries to take real effective action with Mugabe, simply because the leader who is destroying his country is black. The greatest black leader of the last century, Nelson Mandela, did not hesitate to denounce Mugabe for the tyrant he is (leading article, May 17, 2000).
From The Independent (UK), 1 September
Disaster feared as black farm workers are forced to flee
Harare - Zimbabwe is facing a humanitarian disaster following the eviction of tens of thousands of black farm workers by government-backed militias, it was claimed on Friday. The Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU), which represents mainly white farmers, estimates that 70,000 black farm workers have been thrown out of their homes on white farms. "The numbers have been rising since last year. It's a really big disaster," said one union official. Government supporters accuse the black farm workers of emulating their white employers in supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The situation has become acute in Mashonaland Central Province, where an estimated 30,000 black farm workers were this week driven off the farms.
The latest warning came as details emerged of a particularly brutal assault on a 72-year-old white farmer, his wife, aged 66, and their six black farm workers in a fresh wave of violence. Wessel Weller, a Dutch national, and his wife, Lockie were assaulted by the ruling party supporters occupying his farm in Mvurwi, 60 kilometers north of the capital Harare, on Wednesday night. Mr Weller said that his ordeal started when he tried to stop war veterans who have occupied his property from pegging vegetable gardens in his cattle paddocks.
"I calmly urged about five war veterans to stop digging in the paddocks but to my surprise they reported to their colleagues that I had assaulted them," said Weller. He said a group of 50, wielding axes, stones and hatchets burst into his house and assaulted him and his wife. His workers were also assaulted, two seriously. Mr Weller said he had sustained deep cuts on the hands, legs and back. He said his wife, who was trying to shield him from sticks directed at him, had also suffered wounds all over her body. "I can't believe that we are still alive in view of what happened ... we are recovering well," he said.
Last night Mr Weller, a Dutch national, returned to the farm which is still occupied by the war veterans: "We will just hang on ... we are an old couple and cannot think of starting a new life elsewhere all over again." He said he had been held hostage for seven hours after the beatings and was barred from seeking treatment. A black worker at the farm said his six colleagues had been beaten for "behaving as if they were children of whites". Violence has raged on Zimbabwe's commercial farms since last year and the mainly white CFU has unsuccessfully urged President Robert Mugabe to issue a statement condemning the violence. Mugabe argues that the land occupiers are merely reclaiming their land. Nine white farmers have died in the farm violence. The Human Rights Forum, a coalition of 10 groups including Amnesty International, believes that in July 11 people died in politically motivated murders in Zimbabwe, while 61 disappeared and 288 were tortured.
From News24 (SA), 31 August
SA youths clash over Mugabe
Durban - A fight almost broke out at an international meeting of landless people against racism at the World Conference Against Racism in Durban (WCAR) on Thursday when a youth made statements about Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Sipho Sithole, a member of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) in Mpumalanga, tore a piece of paper, wrote in bold that "Mugabe is an idiot", and pasted the paper on his back. A Johannesburg member of the Socialist Party of Azania (Sopa) saw the writing, got angry and attacked Sithole. People who were at the scene had to separate the two.
Sithole however, failed to give the matter up. He replaced the piece of paper with another which had an inscription: "Mugabe is an old lion who failed to hunt, so he wants to use others to hunt for him." "It is clear that Mugabe has failed to govern Zimbabwe. Now he is using the people by getting them to invade the land so that he can keep his position as the president," Sithole told Sapa after the brawl. "According to our understanding, he does not have any plans on how to govern Zimbabwe anyway and now the only way that he could use his position is to convince the people to invade the land. We really don't agree with him, we don't support him at all as South Africans."
His colleague, Nqobizizwe Mbokane, who is also an ANCYL member in the same province, said Mugabe was declaring war on his people by letting them invade white-owned farmers and tormenting black farmworkers. "Mugabe has ruled his country for many years. He is tired," Mbokane said. He said land was a top priority in Africa and Mugabe knew that very well. "People of Zimbabwe are still landless and unemployed and he wants to remain in power. We are not saying that we don't want land, but he must follow the procedure," he said.
Kenny Komeng, a Sopa member from Johannesburg, said he supported Mugabe and Sithole's sentiments created a wrong impression to thousands of delegates in Durban for the WCAR. About 3 000 landless people are camping at the Berea Rovers Club in the city to attend the conference. They are sheltered in seven tents and have 11 temporary toilets and they are without water. "Here, we are landless people and we expect everybody who is here to fight for land. I support Mugabe in Zimbabwe, big time," Komeng said. The meeting which he attended adopted a Landless People's Charter which declared in part that all unused land in South Africa should be redistributed to landless people, including women.
"We need our land for grazing, farming, economic opportunities and community facilities. We say also that people who have been evicted from their land ... should be given top priority for land reform," the document said. The document added that all laws not favouring landless people should be scrapped. "These demands we will fight for, side by side, through our lives until we have won our land. Agriculture and Land Minister Thoko Didiza made a brief appearance at the meeting while Pan Africanist Congress deputy president Motsoko Pheko sat until proceedings ended at 18:00.
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 31 August
Citizenship law sparks outrage
The Zimbabwean government’s decision to force all dual nationals to renounce their foreign citizenship in January next year has created administrative problems for embassies and could create tension between Harare and the region. The legislation, which came into effect on July 6, requires all dual nationals to renounce their foreign citizenship by January 7 2002 if they wish to retain Zimbabwe citizenship. Those who miss the January 7 deadline will automatically lose their citizenship and might be forced to leave the country. The restoration of citizenship will cost $25 000 and one-and-a-half years to process.
Diplomats from the region have held meetings with Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede and have raised complaints about the inconvenience. "He simply told us that we had to put in place mechanisms that ensure that all the affected people renounce before the deadline. It appears as if there is no going back on the decision," said one diplomat. The legislation, widely viewed as having been targeted at whites, has now produced headaches for foreign missions, which now have to grapple with large numbers of people wanting to renounce.
Problems have however arisen, as most foreign missions stationed here do not have the capacity to process the citizenship renunciation by the set deadline. Worse still people domiciled here who would be affected by the new legislation are not aware of the sad predicament faces them come January 7. Most of them have learnt of the new regulations when trying to renew passports at the Registrar General’s Office. Officers at the passport office are refusing to renew passports unless certificates of renunciation are produced. Children of Malawian, Zambian and Mozambican migrant workers born and have lived here all their lives and have voted in past elections, are being asked to renounce their entitlement to foreign citizenship.
Foreign missions which spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent this week, said the legislation was pernicious as people with Zimbabwean identity cards and passports but whose parents or grandparents were not born here were being asked to apply for renunciation. Zambia’s deputy High Commissioner to Zimbabwe Ben Shawa said his office was receiving an average of 500 applications every week since the new legislation came into being. He said some of the people who were being asked to renounce their Zambian citizenship had already done so. He said under the current circumstances, it was not possible for Zambia to issue renunciation certificates before the January deadline.
"What happens is that we send the applications to the Ministry of Home Affairs in Zambia and a citizenship board which meets quarterly then looks at the applications before making a decision. So you can see that if someone applies today, the application will only be looked at in October or November," he said. He said they had applied to the Zambian government for special powers to issue certificates of renunciation from Harare and by-pass the board. "We have not yet received a reply on that and we do not actually know whether our applications will be accepted or not. It might even need to go to cabinet (in Zambia) before we get a reply."
Diplomatic sources this week said foreign missions of Mozambique, Malawi, South Africa and India were in a similar predicament. The South African High Commission in a statement last night said it took three to four months to renounce foreign citizenship in the country. The Independent understands that staff at the RG’s office are accepting receipts of application as proof of renunciation but this is a loose application of the law. The law clearly states that dual nationals will cease to be citizens of Zimbabwe unless they "effectively renounce" their foreign citizenship. In the past, a number of British nationals applied for renunciation at their High Commission here and took their receipts to the RG’s office where these were accepted as proof of renunciation. This, diplomatic sources said, had now stopped. It takes up to six months for the British Home Office to issue certificates of renunciation and those applying now might miss the January 7 deadline.
At least 20 000 British nationals will be affected by the legislation which analysts said was fashioned as a political gimmick. "The idea is to prevent whites from voting as Zimbabweans in elections and then claiming British or American nationality when they want to be evacuated from the country," said one analyst. He said President Mugabe could exploit the situation likely to obtain in January to garner support from regional leaders for his policies and to wrest concessions from the British government using the human mass as wagers.
From BBC News, 1 September
Zimbabwe singer plays with fire
A Zimbabwean musician is having trouble marketing his latest song, which is provocatively titled The President is a Thief. Bekithemba Khumalo says he was not referring to President Robert Mugabe personally, but to his government. In the current climate of political violence, most music producers initially refused to record Khumalo's album - called Taking him Away - which features the song. Several songs by leading Zimbabwean musicians have been banned from the state media for being deemed critical of the government. One producer did relent and secretly recorded The President is a Thief, but now shops in Khumalo's home town of Bulawayo are refusing to sell the cassette.
A month ago, government spin doctors hit back by producing an album of songs praising Mr Mugabe and his controversial programme of land reform. When Khumalo spoke to the BBC's Network Africa, he did not seem unduly worried about the prospect of being visited by either the security forces or militants from Mr Mugabe's Zanu PF party. "They can think of arresting me but then it's a way of expressing myself. It's my democratic right to say whatever I feel," he said. Faced with the difficulties of selling his album, Khumalo says he is going to try to sell it abroad because, "everyone should know what is happening here". However he says that the album Taking him Away has social songs as well as those with a political message. Khumalo says he chose the album title because "whether you're dying from Aids or being voted out of office, it's all the same."
Last December, a lighting engineer was arrested for shining spotlights on a portrait of Mr Mugabe while Oliver Mtukudzi was singing his song Wasakara. "Wasakara" has become the unofficial anthem of the opposition because it says that old men should know when to step down. Mr Mugabe, 76, has governed Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. Mtukudzi says, however, that his song was not written with any political connotations and he is surprised by the uproar it has caused. Thomas Mapfumo, who championed the 1970s liberation struggle which brought Mr Mugabe to power, has seen his more recent songs banned from the air-waves for referring to corruption and "disaster".
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 31 August
Chissano, Muluzi snub Mugabe
President Robert Mugabe’s attempts to induce Mozambique and Malawi to adopt a hardline stance on Britain and the country’s commercial farmers flopped at the land crisis meeting held in Beira this week, the Zimbabwe Independent has gathered. Diplomatic sources told the Independent that Mugabe implored presidents Joachim Chissano of Mozambique and Malawi’s Bakili Muluzi to sing the same refrain as Harare and support the government’s haphazard land reform exercise. The three regional leaders form part of the troika that runs the SADC organ on politics, defence and security. The organ is headed by Chissano, while Muluzi is the SADC chairman.
The meeting was held at the behest of Muluzi, who wanted to get more briefing on the country’s land debacle. Commercial farmers are crossing the border into Mozambique in droves to start farming operations there, joining hordes of South Africans who have taken up farming offers since 1996. Mugabe has not been amused that the farmers have been welcomed at Zimbabwe’s expense. Mugabe, the Independent understands, wanted Mozambique to stop them from farming in Mozambique, but Chissano insisted that they were welcome. The majority of the farmers are fleeing the on-going violence in the country’s commercial farms that have so far cost the lives of four farmers and led to looting of their properties earlier this month.
After the meeting, Muluzi was reported to have said he had been "well briefed" by Mugabe on the land issue before leaving Mugabe and Chissano to sign a Beira Corridor memorandum of understanding that seeks to consolidate trade between the two countries. Diplomatic sources said Mugabe was reined-in and advised to implement land reform along internationally-acceptable standards and with respect to the rule of law. Mugabe is generally regarded as a regional bully from the days of the Frontline States, dictating terms to heads of state and using the Organ on Defence and Politics to dictate his personal interests. Muluzi and Chissano are understood to have told Mugabe to listen to the concerns of other regional leaders. Upon arrival in Malawi after the Beira meeting, Muluzi was quoted by Reuters as saying: "The spill over of that situation (Zimbabwe land crisis) can be devastating to our economies." Muluzi said there would be a meeting of six regional leaders in the country to deliberate on the Zimbabwe crisis.
And a unit of Gaddafi's notorious Amazons – an all-female force of elite guards who surround the Libyan leader at all times – will be stationed in Zimbabwe.
Reports from Harare this week suggest Mugabe is convinced Western powers are plotting to kill him and has turned to Gaddafi – who has survived at least four assassination attempts – for help.
Gaddafi – an international pariah due to his support for terrorist groups – was in Harare last month to sign a trade deal for the supply of Libyan oil worth $720 million to ease the country's fuel crisis.
Libya will also make a $180 million donation to Mugabe's campaign fund for next year's election – the biggest challenge the Zimbabwean leader has faced in his 20-year rule.
Gaddafi also agreed to buy Zimbabwean beef and, according to intelligence sources, has offered to send Libyans to manage commercial farms seized from white owners since Mugabe's militants began a series of land invasions in February last year.
In the past Gaddafi has called for all whites to be thrown out of Africa.
Harare's Financial Gazette newspaper also reported that a crucial part of the deal was protection.
Mugabe's bodyguards, in batches of 10, will travel to Tripoli for three-week training programs with all expenses paid by the Libyans.
The first team will return from the north African country in time for the Brisbane meeting, at which Mugabe is expected to receive a hostile reception and possibly face an attempted citizen's arrest by London-based Australian activist Peter Tatchell.
The campaigner for gay rights was injured by Mugabe's bodyguard when Mr Tatchell tried to arrest him in Brussels in March.
"The need to improve the President's security has been heightened by his fears the West wants to assassinate him before the presidential election next year," an intelligence source told the Gazette.
The government of Zimbabwe has refused permission to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to set up settlement camps for about 3 000 displaced farm labourers in the Wedza District of Mashonaland East, following the occupation of about 22 farms in the area last week.
Informed sources told The Zimbabwe Mirror that the ICRC had sought government authority to set up the camps, following reports that the farm labourers had been evicted from the farms by marauding war veterans and were just wandering around the outskirts of Harare in search of food and shelter.
But the head of the ICRC regional delegation, based in Harare, Carlo Varlo von Slue, could not confirm or deny reports that his organisation had approached the government concerning the issue.
“We can’t comment publicly on that issue, and I think it is better to get the information from your government,” said Varlo von Slue.
However, he confirmed that the ICRC had toured the affected farms to assess the situation. A spokesperon for the Commercial Farmers Union told The Zimbabwe Mirror that they were informed that the government had barred the ICRC from establishing the settlement camps.
“We are informed that International Committee of the Red Cross was denied the right to assist the farm workers by the government and we wonder what really the motive was in doing so,” said the spokesperson.
The chairperson of the inter-ministerial committee on land reform, Ignatius Chombo, yesterday said he was not aware of the existence of displaced farm workers in the area, and of the reported approaches by the ICRC.
“I am not on the ground and to be honest with you I don’t know of the issues you are raising,” said Chombo.
Many of the labourers, according to the CFU, were from Wedza, a prosperous tobacco-growing area, where war veterans and landless people went on the rampage last week, in a wave of fresh farm occupations.
The CFU claimed over 3 000 farm workers and their families were completely displaced after war veterans forced farm managers to pay them off and track them away.
“Over 22 farms have been affected and 14 of these no longer have a labour force. Farmers have been told by war veterans to remove 4 000 head of cattle,” alleged the spokesperson.
She added that against this background, 12 farmers were recently granted a court order to allow them to return to their farms and continue farming.
There are approximately 80 CFU-registered farms in the Wedza District.
The spokesperson said as a result of the disturbances at the farms, the country stands to lose 352 000lb of tobacco and 19 600 tonnes of paprika.
The Wedza occupations followed the disturbances in Mashonaland West the previous week, in which about 40 farms were looted. The desperate farm labourers initially sought temporary sanctuary at police stations but have now turned to wandering in the district in search of help. It is estimated that over 3 000 farm labourers were affected in Wedza, while 14 000 more were also victims of land occupations in Chinhoyi a fortnight ago.
According to the General Agriculture and Plantations Workers Union (GAPWU) over 43 000 farm workers have lost their jobs since the beginning of land occupations in Zimbabwe in February last year.
Robert Mugabe has intensified a vicious blitz against all perceived opponents while also using public funds to shore up waning support in what analysts say is his one last bid to avert likely defeat in next year's presidential election.
HARARE - In the
last few months, Mugabe and his top lieutenants have enlisted sport, music,
religion and even school children in a desperate drive to cultivate groups
across the nation that could actively support and give legitimacy to Mugabe's
The analysts noted that violence and intimidation still remained central to
Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party's survival strategy and said the planned
deployment of soldiers on farms ostensibly to help resettle villagers was
designed to frighten peasants into voting for Mugabe next year.
"These are desperate moves that are promoted by declining support," said
University of Zimbabwe political scientist Masipula Sithole.
Sithole, who also heads the Harare-based Institute of Mass Public Opinion,
said the use of soldiers to ensure the support of landless villagers was
indication that "the government is no longer certain of support anywhere, even
among its traditional supporters such as the peasant farmers".
Two weeks ago, Lands Minister Joseph Made announced that Zimbabwean soldiers
would fan out into farms to help peg and demarcate land for allocation to
villagers the government is resettling under its illegal fast-track land
The army, feared by many ordinary Zimbabweans because it is often used by
Mugabe to suppress popular dissent such as riots against high food prices, does
not have any expertise on agrarian reform or rural resettlement.
An uncompromising drive by Mugabe in recent weeks to promote his allies into
the judiciary has been complemented by moves to draft more of his hard-core
supporters into the police and the army to tighten his hold on all critical arms
of state ahead of the ballot.
Pro-Mugabe war veterans, blamed for causing anarchy in the country since last
year, have been drafted into the army while an auxiliary police constabulary
unit made up of ardent ZANU PF supporters was last week fully integrated into
the police force.
A national youth service programme launched a month ago would only help
divert attention from alarming unemployment levels of more than 60 percent while
providing a platform to indoctrinate young Zimbabweans with ZANU PF philosophy,
Zimbabwe Institute of Development studies professor Brian Raftopoulos said.
"The results of last year's parliamentary election scared them absolutely and
this time round they are leaving nothing to chance," the respected Raftopoulos
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) nearly ended ZANU PF's
21-year hold on power in those elections, just losing by a narrow four seats.
Political observers and analysts say the charismatic MDC leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, could ride on voters' anger over Mugabe's failed economic and
political policies to thrash the 77-year-old president at the ballot box next
The moves to tighten Mugabe's hold on the judiciary, the police and the army
and to dole out cash donations to ZANU PF supporters were not just meant to
build critical support for Mugabe's re-election bid, Raftopoulos said.
There were meant to garner support for every planned move by Mugabe,
including contigencies such as a declaration of emergency rule and a suspension
of the presidential election if he had no chance of victory.
A demonstration of grassroots support is necessary if Mugabe is to maintain a
semblance of legitimacy necessary to re-engage the international community.
Raftopoulos said: "Threats by ZANU PF that they will not allow anyone else to
rule this country should not be taken lightly. This is a party that believes it
has a divine right to rule Zimbabwe."
In tandem with efforts to entrench ZANU PF's control of the state apparatus,
the party's militants have in the past few weeks intensified violence against
white farmers and MDC supporters, forcing many to flee their farms and homes for
fear of their very lives.
Propaganda chief Jonathan Moyo has meanwhile stepped up a vicious campaign to
marginalise all alternative voices, including the independent media which has
continued to point out the government's shortcomings.
Seven journalists, all working for the independent media, have been arrested
by police in connection with their work in the past three weeks.
A media campaign to market Mugabe and spruce up his battered image has also
been launched by Moyo.
In one such desperate spin, state television last week repeatedly beamed
footage of a smiling Mugabe with some obscure American businessmen showing off
three cottages in one of Harare's poorest suburbs of Kambuzuma.
The state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation told Zimbabweans the project
under which the three pre-fabricated structures had been built would somehow
help end entrenched poverty in the country.
Further away in Bulawayo, Moyo and other government ministers were busy
handing out cash to school drama clubs and residents ostensibly under a $1
billion fund set up to promote the informal sector but which ZANU PF is openly
using to buy voters' support.
Bulawayo residents elect a new executive mayor in two weeks' time and MDC
candidate Japhet Ndabeni Ncube is widely tipped to beat ZANU PF's George Mlilo.
ZANU PF lost to the MDC in nearly all urban constituencies in last year's
Cash handouts to town dwellers ostensibly in support of the informal sector
and the introduction of costly commuter train services in Harare and Bulawayo
are part of efforts by ZANU PF to win back the hearts and minds of urban voters.
At national level, Mugabe's government has set up "action Cabinet committees"
which it says will solve within 66 days a plethora of economic problems that the
government has failed to resolve in the past two decades.
Sithole said: "They (the government and ZANU PF) also do their own polling in
private and they are aware of how low their popularity has sunk.
"The unfortunate thing for ZANU PF is that the people will see through all
these attempts to hoodwink them. The simple question Zimbabwean are asking is:
where was the government all along when things got this bad?"
The analysts noted that violence and intimidation still remained central to Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party's survival strategy and said the planned deployment of soldiers on farms ostensibly to help resettle villagers was designed to frighten peasants into voting for Mugabe next year.
"These are desperate moves that are promoted by declining support," said University of Zimbabwe political scientist Masipula Sithole.
Sithole, who also heads the Harare-based Institute of Mass Public Opinion, said the use of soldiers to ensure the support of landless villagers was indication that "the government is no longer certain of support anywhere, even among its traditional supporters such as the peasant farmers".
Two weeks ago, Lands Minister Joseph Made announced that Zimbabwean soldiers would fan out into farms to help peg and demarcate land for allocation to villagers the government is resettling under its illegal fast-track land reforms.
The army, feared by many ordinary Zimbabweans because it is often used by Mugabe to suppress popular dissent such as riots against high food prices, does not have any expertise on agrarian reform or rural resettlement.
An uncompromising drive by Mugabe in recent weeks to promote his allies into the judiciary has been complemented by moves to draft more of his hard-core supporters into the police and the army to tighten his hold on all critical arms of state ahead of the ballot.
Pro-Mugabe war veterans, blamed for causing anarchy in the country since last year, have been drafted into the army while an auxiliary police constabulary unit made up of ardent ZANU PF supporters was last week fully integrated into the police force.
A national youth service programme launched a month ago would only help divert attention from alarming unemployment levels of more than 60 percent while providing a platform to indoctrinate young Zimbabweans with ZANU PF philosophy, Zimbabwe Institute of Development studies professor Brian Raftopoulos said.
"The results of last year's parliamentary election scared them absolutely and this time round they are leaving nothing to chance," the respected Raftopoulos said.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) nearly ended ZANU PF's 21-year hold on power in those elections, just losing by a narrow four seats.
Political observers and analysts say the charismatic MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, could ride on voters' anger over Mugabe's failed economic and political policies to thrash the 77-year-old president at the ballot box next year.
The moves to tighten Mugabe's hold on the judiciary, the police and the army and to dole out cash donations to ZANU PF supporters were not just meant to build critical support for Mugabe's re-election bid, Raftopoulos said.
There were meant to garner support for every planned move by Mugabe, including contigencies such as a declaration of emergency rule and a suspension of the presidential election if he had no chance of victory.
A demonstration of grassroots support is necessary if Mugabe is to maintain a semblance of legitimacy necessary to re-engage the international community.
Raftopoulos said: "Threats by ZANU PF that they will not allow anyone else to rule this country should not be taken lightly. This is a party that believes it has a divine right to rule Zimbabwe."
In tandem with efforts to entrench ZANU PF's control of the state apparatus, the party's militants have in the past few weeks intensified violence against white farmers and MDC supporters, forcing many to flee their farms and homes for fear of their very lives.
Propaganda chief Jonathan Moyo has meanwhile stepped up a vicious campaign to marginalise all alternative voices, including the independent media which has continued to point out the government's shortcomings.
Seven journalists, all working for the independent media, have been arrested by police in connection with their work in the past three weeks.
A media campaign to market Mugabe and spruce up his battered image has also been launched by Moyo.
In one such desperate spin, state television last week repeatedly beamed footage of a smiling Mugabe with some obscure American businessmen showing off three cottages in one of Harare's poorest suburbs of Kambuzuma.
The state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation told Zimbabweans the project under which the three pre-fabricated structures had been built would somehow help end entrenched poverty in the country.
Further away in Bulawayo, Moyo and other government ministers were busy handing out cash to school drama clubs and residents ostensibly under a $1 billion fund set up to promote the informal sector but which ZANU PF is openly using to buy voters' support.
Bulawayo residents elect a new executive mayor in two weeks' time and MDC candidate Japhet Ndabeni Ncube is widely tipped to beat ZANU PF's George Mlilo.
ZANU PF lost to the MDC in nearly all urban constituencies in last year's parliamentary election.
Cash handouts to town dwellers ostensibly in support of the informal sector and the introduction of costly commuter train services in Harare and Bulawayo are part of efforts by ZANU PF to win back the hearts and minds of urban voters.
At national level, Mugabe's government has set up "action Cabinet committees" which it says will solve within 66 days a plethora of economic problems that the government has failed to resolve in the past two decades.
Sithole said: "They (the government and ZANU PF) also do their own polling in private and they are aware of how low their popularity has sunk.
"The unfortunate thing for ZANU PF is that the people will see through all these attempts to hoodwink them. The simple question Zimbabwean are asking is: where was the government all along when things got this bad?"